Feb 082018

From GinnyDi:

“Okay, here’s the problem with the idea that oppressed groups can “alienate allies” by not being nice enough:

You shouldn’t be an ally because oppressed groups are nice to you. You should be an ally because you believe they deserve basic human rights. Hearing “I hate men” shouldn’t make men stop being feminist. Hearing “fuck white people” shouldn’t make white people stop opposing racism.

Your opposition to oppression should be moral, and immovable. Your belief that all humans should be treated with equal respect shouldn’t be conditional based on whether or not individual people are nice to you.

(emphasis in original)


That last line is extremely important, and I wish the world was more like it. Principles fucking matter!

That being said, I think Ginny is conflating adherence to principles with support for a group, a little bit. I’m very pro-Free Speech, to the point that I support Fred Phelps’s right to say that gays are causing hurricanes, and neo-nazi’s rights to have peaceful protests, and communist’s right to say that our society should be burned to the ground. But I abhor all these groups, and would never consider myself an ally of any of them.

Likewise, if some person or group said “I hate men,” then I’m not an ally of theirs. Nor do I need to be to promote gender equality. My commitment to the principle of equality does not depend on my being bestowed with an “ally” token by every/any group who also supports that thing. So yeah, my “allyship” to any particular group is totally dependent on whether that group also treats me with some modicum of respect. For someone to claim that just because I’m not an ally of their particular circle, that means I’m a racist or sexist or pro-censorship or whatever, is manipulative and unethical.

  4 Responses to “I’m Pro-Equality, and I’m Not Your Ally”

  1. I agree with your feelings on this matter, and at the same time, I (as a straight cis white male) have never felt personally offended when people say that they hate white/male/whatever people. I understand that these statements are (mostly) reactive and over-exaggerated.

    The “ally” term is super weird. I’m perfectly ok not being an “ally” for any “group”. I just think people should be treated equally because that is the basic human decency that we all deserve.

  2. Honestly, I think it’s okay to feel alienated by groups that say they hate *class of people you are in*, like “I hate men”.
    If women are allowed to feel alienated by someone saying “I hate women” then why should the same not apply to men. And the fact that “I hate men” is more common does not make it better.

    It’s the same with race. “I hate white people” is equally as racist as “I hate black people”.

    And if it’s not just a few members of a group but a large part of a movement that voices opinions like these AND that movement does nothing to distance itself from that I can’t and won’t believe that they are for equality or against racism respectively.

    • Also… who treats all humans with equal respect? I have a basic level of respect for everyone I don’t know. For people I do know it differs based on their actions and based on what they’re saying. There are people I respect less than someone I don’t know and there are people I respect more than someone I don’t know. And I feel that’s right.

      Saying you should treat all humans with equal respect means you should treat someone you don’t know, Richard Spencer, Donald Trump, Carl Sagan, Alice Schwarzer, the current Pope, the previous Pope, your parents, Elon Musk and Akira Toriyama with the same respect. I just fail to see why.

  3. I agree with this.

    For me it is just weird seeing the word ally used as a sort of brass ring people should be willing to jump to get.

    Most gay people I know, for example, consider me an ally because I am vocally pro-equality. This doesn’t mean much more than I try to treat people with respect, state I support equal rights and that this is reflected in how I vote.

    But from a lot what I read of medium the term “ally” has essentially become something people have to endlessly prove through more time consuming and often times unpleasant rights of sacrifice. I read people saying that if you haven’t attended a BLM rally in the last X days, you now stop being an ally, if you are white and write a book from the perspective of a non-white person you are no longer an ally, etc.

    More importantly, you see a lot of people create a very binary view of allies vs. enemies. And if you have not achieved enough points to make the grade for an ally, you are now the enemy.

    This makes me sad.

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